Sitting across the table from Dave at lunch, the most striking thing about him was his humility. Here’s a guy managing a multi-billion-dollar commercial real estate portfolio at Invesco but who still manages to communicate in a way that makes me feel like we have been friends for decades. He’s calm, friendly, and has a warm smile, which all seem to be qualities of a person that has already achieved a great deal in life and business.  I was there to learn his secret to success.

It was early in his career as a broker that he graduated from the Dale Carnegie Course.  “I was fortunate that my company was willing to pay for it.  I took the course to build my confidence in speaking to people in my business.  I wanted to be better prepared, less scripted, and more natural in the way I communicated,” he said.

He believes that taking the time to be interested in others has been one of the qualities that has enabled him to build strong professional and personal relationships over his lifetime.  He recalled a woman who left the company saying that he was the only one that popped in to say hello and see how she was doing.  Many of us are so busy focused on our own projects and lives that we don’t make the time to show genuine interest in others. The cost is not necessarily immediate, but over a 40-year career, the small missed opportunities can make the difference between an average career and earning a seat at the table.

Hearing about Dave’s philosophies reminded me of the Dale Carnegie quote, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

These days, Dave not only mentors “up and comers” at Invesco, he also donates his time to mentor young people getting their MBA’s through SMU’s Cox School of Business.  At this point in his career, there’s probably no specific return on investment for developing these relationships.  But that’s the point!  Great leaders don’t see relationships as a means to an end, but an “end” in themselves. That’s why leaders like Dave Laner rise to the top and remain there.

Download Dale Carnegie’s latest white paper on “Recognizing Leadership Blind Spots

Posted by Ryan M. Akins

Investor, Entrepreneur, Listener and Learner. Ryan currently serves as Regional President of Dale Carnegie for the North Texas region. He graduated from The Dale Carnegie Course in 2011.

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